As an international student, James Yuan feels like American students don’t want to talk to him.
“They don’t care about your culture, where you come from, what’s your background,” said the freshman business management major, a native of China. “They don’t really care. It’s a struggle.”
“I guess I always hang out with my Chinese friends, talk to my Chinese friends,” added Javi Yuan, a sophomore media studies and production major. “I seldom talk to Americans because they would not talk to you first.”
But basketball, James Yuan said, can change that.
James Yuan discovered all he needed to start making American friends was a common interest. When he and Javi Yuan were chosen last month to be Owl Sports’ Mandarin broadcasters for Temple men’s basketball, he found it.
“So by having this same interest, basketball, we have a common topic,” James Yuan said. “By having a common topic, it’s like a first step to making friends.”
The two have only broadcasted four men’s basketball games so far—Tulsa, UConn, University of South Florida and Villanova—but James Yuan said he has already made some new friends. A few weeks ago, a student on his floor in Morgan Hall recognized him from his broadcasts and pulled him aside, striking up a conversation.
“It’s a first step for all international students to conquer the culture gap between international students and domestic students,” James Yuan added.
Javi Yuan has been recognized on Owl Sports by his friends, and even one of his professors.
“My friend listened to us, and he was like, ‘Your voice sounds great!’”
The two won the Battle of the Broadcasters competition last month to be the first ever Mandarin broadcasters for Temple men’s basketball games. They competed against three other students to broadcast the Jan. 31 University of South Florida game live for four minutes.
Now, their broadcasts air on Owl Sports, ESPNU, CBS and ABC.
“Temple is doing really good this year, so I’m really excited,” James Yuan said. “It makes me feel like I’m with the basketball team.”
Javi Yuan said it’s an “amazing experience” to broadcast the men’s basketball games.
“It’s like we’re part of the game,” he said.
Javi Yuan had some experience with broadcasting before he won Battle of the Broadcasters. Back home in China, he was a DJ and broadcasted soccer games for Zhangyu.tv, a Chinese website streaming sports.
“It’s something I always wanted to be, to get involved with,” Javi Yuan said. “It’s my dream.”
Since they became broadcasters for Owl Sports, James Yuan and Javi Yuan have met President Theobald and Men’s Basketball Coach Fran Dunphy, and they toured the CBS broadcasting station.
On Chinese New Year, Feb. 8, James Yuan and Javi Yuan were invited to the Philadelphia 76ers’ game against the Los Angeles Clippers. The two were given full control over the 76ers’ Sina Weibo account, a Chinese social media site similar to Twitter.
Throughout the night, the two broadcasters had more than a million followers.
“To get involved with NBA games, to control the blog account, it’s so amazing,” Javi Yuan said. “I can communicate with the fans.”
“It’s so exciting,” James Yuan said. “We really got involved in the game.”
Javi Yuan said it felt like the first step in earning his dream job.
“With that kind of equipment, the microphone, the headphones, it’s so professional,” he said. “It’s like my dream is coming true.”
Michaela Winberg can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @mwinberg_.